We all know that police in Ontario are cracking down on
distracted drivers, particularly those handling cell phones or
texting while driving. But now a private motor vehicle
accident lawsuit is alleging that a driver was distracted because
of cell phone use immediately prior to an accident.
The accident involved four vehicles and was described as a
"chain-reaction rear-end collision." Two of the
drivers commenced a lawsuit against one Basso. Basso alleged
that one of the other drivers, Usselman, was "driving beside
him in the passing lane, talking on a cell phone, looking at some
papers." Basso alleged that Usselman made a fast lane
change, cutting off Basso and causing him to collide with the rear
of Usselman's vehicle.
Usselman's cell phone records showed that he had indeed been
on the phone around the time of the accident.
Usselman moved for summary judgment, arguing that a trial was
not needed as it was clear that Usselman should not be liable in
any way. He stated in his affidavit that at no time in the
1/2 km drive before the accident was he talking on his cell
phone. The court refused to grant summary judgment, stating
that there were issues of credibility that required a judge to hear
from all of the witnesses and decide whether Usselman cut Basso off
and whether Usselman was talking on his cell phone.
This case demonstrates that distracted driving due to cell phone
use might result in more than a ticket: it might result in a
lawsuit and possibly a damages award. The case provides
another jusitification for employers implementing a distracted
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